48 hours in the Loire Valley (Gourmet Chick in France)

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French road trip? Bien sur.  I am kicking off the journey from London back to Australia with a road trip through France with MTV boyfriend.  We have piled the car high with things we each think may be useful (me – high heels, a bottle of gin, him – a tent, multiple pairs of football socks), stuck a GB sticker next to the number plate and merrily set off driving on the right/wrong side of the road in our left hand drive car.

Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley
 
First stop was Normandy where we ate apples in various guises and explored the old town of Bayeux.  Next we headed to the Loire Valley for some chateaux hopping and serious food consumption.  We struggled a little with restaurants as we visited on a Sunday and Monday, prime time in France for restaurants to shut up shop, but we did have some success which I have detailed below.

Chez Bruno
Think of the tiny, crammed French wine bar of your dreams and you may just conjure up Chez Bruno.  Opposite the main chateau in Amboise, Chez Bruno packs in the punters for a quick apertif or a meal of simple, local food alongside a lengthy selection of wines by the glass or by the bottle.  

Andouillette at Chez Bruno

The menu changes regularly and is chalked up on a blackboard.  It features French classics like snails (€8),  shelled and dripping with delicious garlic butter, and regional specialties like the Andouillette (€12).   Andouillette is a sausage made from offal which can be found around the Loire Valley and in Lyon as well.  I found the flavour a little too barnyardy for me but if you are a big offal fan you would be in heaven. All the mains were teamed with ratatouille and a serve of creamy, scalloped potatoes.

Desserts were worth sticking around for, particularly the “chocolate pot” (€5) a terracotta pot filled with a rich, decadent chocolate mousse and topped with a cigar of pastry.  Since Chez Bruno is a wine bar, there was lots of choice where wine was concerned and Chez Bruno also has its own label wines, the highlight of which was the Felix a light, breezy red.

Chocolate pot at Chez Bruno

Essentials
Details: Chez Bruno, 40 Place Michel Debre, Amboise, France (Ph (+33) 2 47 57 73 49
Damage: Reasonable.  Our bill came to €60.
7/10

La Reserve
There was almost a little tantrum in Chez Gourmet Chick after discovering the highly recommended Le Pavillion De Lys was closed for the two days of our stay in the Loire Valley.  We were forced to go with “pick the restaurant with the most diners” method and ended up at  La Reserve which was positively jam packed for a Monday night.

Steak on the La Reserve ‘menu’

It was likely everyone was attracted by the €16.90 menu which was a little patchy, but good value.  To start a huge bowl of salad, dripping with mustard vinigarette, then a flavoursome if shabby looking piece of steak complete with some slightly soggy fries.  We finished off our meal with a créme brulée which did not quite meet MTV boyfriend’s exacting standards but was decent enough with a thin, caramel crust and smooth texture.  As is typical in France a pichet or two of the house red was excellent.

Créme Brulée at La Reserve

Essentials
Details: 28 Place Michel Debré, 37400 Amboise, France (Ph  02 47 57 97 96)
Damage: Reasonable. Our bill came to €48 for two with wine.
5/10

 
Belleroche
 
Gourmet Travel Tips

  • We stayed at Belleroche which is one of the swankiest B and B’s I have ever come across.  The grand 18th century house overlooks the Loire river and is about 10 minutes walk into Amboise.  Rooms were hotel standard and filled with beautiful linens and antique furniture.  Wifi was also included. €100.  Belleroche, 1 rue de Clos de Belleroche 37400 Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, France (Ph +33 (0) 2 47304703).
  • We spent our time exploring the nearby chateaus and also enjoyed cycling around the area (there is a bike hire place in Amboise near the train station which charges €15 a day).  

10 comments

  1. Ahhh, magnifique! Looks like you’re having a wonderful time and softening the blow of your departure from London. Must say I love the word “barnyardy” – will be adding that to the vocab!! Bon mange!

  2. It was a mistake to read this post so close to dinner! Now all I feel like is French food and I’m not going to a French restaurant tonight!

  3. It looks like this trip is off to a wonderful start. Have fun!

  4. What a wonderful start to your trip…steak, chips, chocolate pot and creme brulee? Yes please!

  5. Glad you had fun! We live part of the time in the Loire valley as well — it’s such an elegant and wonderful part of France!

    xoxo

  6. I adore the Loire, it’s one of our very favourite places. We spent a lovely 4 nights there last month, taking the sister away for a relaxing break. Much enjoyment.

  7. Julia – Copious amounts of red wine and cheese do have a way of softening the blow

    Lorraine – I often have that problem as well – my sympathy.

    Greedy Diva – Will do my best

    The Little Loaf – Four of my favourite things…

    Mrs Chatelaine – Lucky you – I am very jealous

    Kavey – Such a beautiful part of the world

  8. Oh Lord, poor you, food looks genuinely absolutely revolting…

  9. My tummy is hungry after seeing your food photos.

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